05 October 2016

Smoke-free homes giving kids a fresh start

Almost all Western Australian children are now growing up in a smoke-free household.

The near perfect result (99.1 per cent) is revealed in the latest Health and Wellbeing of Children in Western Australia report which also found they were far more likely to have been the product of a pregnancy in which neither parent smoked than a decade earlier (88.5 per cent, compared with 66.1 per cent in 2005).

The report is produced from the Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System, a continuous survey that has been monitoring the health status of Western Australians since 2002.

Professor Karen Edmond, paediatrician and consultant to the Department of Health’s Child and Adolescent Health Service welcomed the latest findings saying they would lead to long-standing health benefits.

“Studies have shown that exposure to second-hand smoke in the home increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease and lung cancer substantially as well as other health problems so it is encouraging to see our children now being spared the damaging effects of passive smoking,” she said.

“There is also the added bonus that children who grow up in non-smoking households are less likely to take up smoking themselves.”

Despite promising trends on the tobacco front, the report highlights a worsening in levels of activity among children, with only 38.5 per cent of five to 15 year olds meeting Australia’s recommended guidelines for physical activity.

“We still have a way to go in getting children more active,” Professor Edmond said.

The report’s findings are based on computer-assisted telephone interviews with almost 800 parents and carers of children up to the age of 15 years.  The interviews were conducted between January and December of 2015.

Key findings of the report were:

  • Almost nine out of ten (87.3%) children were reported as having very good or excellent health by their parents/carers.
  • Children aged 10 to 15 years were twice as likely as children 0 to 9 years to have had an injury in the past 12 months.
  • Only 38.5 per cent of children aged 5 to 15 years were meeting the physical activity guidelines. This is the lowest level recorded since it was first measured in 2006.
  • The prevalence of children who never eat meals from fast food restaurants has increased significantly from 2002 (16.2%) to 2015 (24.5%).
  • The prevalence of children living in a smoke-free home has increased significantly from 2002 (90.5%) to 2015 (99.1%).
  • The prevalence of neither parent smoking during the pregnancy of the children increase significantly from 2005 to 2015 (88.5%).
  • One-quarter (28.9%) of children were bullied in the past 12 months.


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